Last Wednesday, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced precautionary measures that would help stop the curve of COVID-19 for the upcoming holiday season and for the future.
The new measures state that indoor and outdoor gatherings should consist of 10 people or less. In addition, bars, restaurants and gyms must close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Restaurants are still allowed to do curbside pickup and takeout after hours, but are prohibited from serving to-go alcohol.
“You have to kind of figure out what makes sense for your family,” said Dr. Christy Beneri, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Fellowship Coordinator of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook University. “I think we do have to kind of think about the number of people that are in a space. You just have to kind of see what makes sense for the space you’re in and who is going to be there.”
Dr. Beneri also mentioned how some people like to go out to eat for Thanksgiving, where there are far more than 10 people in a restaurant. She believes this new legislation will make people rethink their holiday plans and how to approach it safely.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended postponing traveling for Thanksgiving and taking into consideration factors like the destination’s COVID-19 cases, who is at high risk attending the gathering and if any guests have been seeing others who do not live with you.
“You don’t know who has been exposed, and who is actually carrying the virus at that particular moment,” said Dr. Jorge Benach, Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and a member of the Center for Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook University. “ I think maybe you can control the people that live with you, but you don’t with people that are coming to you from other parts.”
In the past week, the U.S. death toll has peaked to over 250,000 and over 11 million cases of COVID-19 according to the CDC. On Long Island, the cases have topped over 55,000 in Suffolk County and in Nassau. Although cases are rising, two vaccines from companies like Pfizer by Moderna have been produced.
Both vaccines have over 90% success rates of combatting COVID-19 and the Pfizer vaccine got approved to begin distribution. The difference between them, however, is the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees celsius while the Moderna vaccine can be stored between 18 to 26 degrees fahrenheit.
Head of Stony Brook University’s Chemistry department, Dr. Peter Tonge began working on infectious disease research when he came to Stony Brook. He believes the reports of both vaccines are somewhat encouraging.
“You have to distribute the vaccine, and then people have to be given the vaccine, and then they have to have an immune response,”said Dr.Tonge. “The vaccine may not work on everybody, since we won’t actually know it’s efficacy until it is tested. However, vaccines are usually not 100% effective.”
All three doctors suggest that this Thanksgiving holiday, celebrations should be between immediate family members and without those who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. In addition, they recommend making sure you always wear a mask and wash your hands frequently.